Directed by: #NathanHannawin
Written by: #JoeHarvey
For me, the most crucial aspect of a good #thriller movie is its characters. Actually, the most crucial aspect is tension, but if we care about the characters – or even if we can relate to them on some level – the tension is automatically heightened. If we don’t, however, that’s a problem. And, unfortunately, despite a few character flourishes, Scales leans more to the latter.
Three individuals, all with a shared history: Boxer, Darnell (Anthony Vander), his PR Manager/girlfriend Maria (Nicole Roffe) and businessman Adam (Kane Surry), come together at the behest of drug dealer Keith (Kamal Simpson). Each thinks they’re in for a night of drink and drugs...but Keith has a secret.
The problem with these characters is that they simply aren’t that interesting. Most are generic #thriller movie clichés we’ve seen many times before, and none make an especially good first impression. Darnell spends most of his time being obnoxiously angry and Adam spends all of his goading him. Which, in fairness, leads to some pretty amusing moments, but starts to feel a little overplayed by about halfway through the movie. The biggest issue here, however, is the chemistry between the group, which felt a little stilted. I think this may be because not enough is done to establish their past together; we’re just sort of told they have one.
Now, having said all that, the performances themselves are good, and there are some interesting character developments later in the film. Narratively speaking, Scales is also a well-written movie, if a little unoriginal. The story flows well, and the pacing is spot-on. The only issue here is with the film’s conclusion. Obviously, I don’t want to give anything away, but the events during its climax come very much out of the blue and don’t feel natural. This may be more an issue of personal preference, though.
Where Scales really shines though is in its technical proficiency. There’s some solid editing here from #PeterHewitt, and #AlexBoardman’s cinematography – particularly the framing – is consistently on point. Throw that in with some gorgeous lighting and marvellous bookending cityscape scenes, and you have a movie which is very visually pleasing.
Due to a few weak elements in the film – namely the characterisation and group dynamic – Scales struggles to distance itself from the slew of thrillers already available. On the other hand, solid individual performances and writing, and stunning visuals help Scales to stand as an entertaining piece of independent cinema.